The Surprising Reason Why Most Spanish Restaurants And Bars Have A Pork Leg Hanging

Spaniards love their pork. Roasted, smoked, fresh or cured, if you ask someone from Spain what his or her favorite food is, chances are it will involve pig. In fact, they love it so much, that almost all restaurants and tapa bars have a pork leg hanging as if on display.

But this alone wouldn’t make a great story, worthy enough to be featured on a I’m A Useless Info Junkie. The reason behind this indeed strange tradition though, is quite interesting.

The reason Spanish restaurants hang a pork dates back to the Spanish Inquisition. The Inquisition had the main goal of replacing the Medieval Inquisition that was under the influence of the Pope and to combat heresy. At the beginning, their purpose was to ensure the orthodoxy of the people who had previously converted from Islam and Judaism to Catholicism. But soon enough, things changed. (the article continues after the ad)

In 1492, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand issued royal decrees that pretty much gave all Jews and Muslims living in Spain three options: convert to Catholicism, leave the country or face burning at the stake. Thousands of them chose to leave the country but those who stayed had to prove somehow that they had truly converted to Catholicism. To do so, they were hanging pork legs in display so everyone could see that they were eating pork hence their religion had indeed changed!

But Jews and Muslims weren’t the only ones to do so. Because Catholic restaurant and store owners wanted to show that they weren’t Jews or Muslims, they also started hanging pork legs in display. Apparently, this weird tradition stuck around for years and this is why, even today, most restaurants and bars in Spain have a pig leg hanging.

If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: The Surprising Origin Of Why Horseshoes Are Considered To Be Lucky 


Photo: Peninsula Eatz
Photoshop: I’m A Useless Info Junkie
Sources: Spain And The Pig | Why in Spain all the restaurant and bars a hanged pig leg? Jewish Tour guide in Madrid and Toledo | Spain decides to make up for its persecution of Jews — but won’t do the same for Muslims